SHERIDAN — A business often recognized as a big player in the manufacturing sector of Sheridan was recognized for its leadership and consistency in the community last month.
Kennon Products is an employee-owned company that manufactures products and provides engineering services to a multitude of markets including: Department of Defense, commercial/general/military aviation, NASA and behavioral health care. The company is inspired by and committed to the protection of high-value assets, from aircraft and other essential equipment to the most important asset: life. Kennon’s products are designed, developed and produced right here in Sheridan.
Kennon was founded by Paul Kennon Chaney and Ron Kensey in a small rented garage in Temple City, California, in 1984. The company’s flagship product was the Kennon Sunshield, an insulative product that protects aircraft interior from ultraviolet and heat damage caused by the sun. This quickly became a best seller and remains a popular product to this day. Chaney left the company to focus on his construction business and, in 1989, Kensey moved the company to Sheridan for quality of life reasons.
Recognizing the need to diversify, Kennon expanded its offerings to include other protective covers for general aviation aircraft. In 1995, an aerospace engineer from Wright Patterson Air Force Base contacted Kennon about producing sunshields for the F-15s deployed in the Gulf War. Access to military aircraft platforms quickly increased the company’s offerings. The company produced sunshields for all Department of Defense aircraft and soon moved into other protective coverings still offered today.
In 2006, Kennon hired its first engineer and began its foray into the research and development realm. The company began applying for Small Business Innovation Research grants to help develop new technologies. Kennon has achieved above-average success in gaining SBIR grant awards, and is notably successful in developing SBIR projects to full commercialization.
Kennon’s entry into the behavioral health market began in 2009, when staff from the local Sheridan Veterans Affairs Health Care System approached the company looking for an anti-ligature solution to patient bathroom doors and shower curtains. The result was the Soft Suicide Prevention Door. In the last two years, the Joint Commission, an accreditation body in the behavioral health sector, has implemented stricter requirements for ligature-resistant products. This has resulted in an enormous demand for the SSPD, now Kennon’s lead seller.
The company currently has three significant engineering efforts: KC-46 Thermal Radiation Shields, Navy LPUs and V-22 Composite Armor Systems. All three are slated to begin production between late 2019 and mid-2021.
Kennon strives for excellence in innovative manufacturing and engineering, while cultivating leaders in its industry and the community. There is great opportunity to achieve this in Sheridan. Although Kennon offers services and supplies products internationally, community involvement and local contributions are an important part of the company culture. The company and its employees volunteer more than 2,600 hours and provide $70,000 in charitable contributions annually.
Perhaps the most significant accomplishment this year was the increase in staffing. In 2017, Kennon employed 20 production employees. To accommodate the continued increase in production demands and the lack of space to add production workstations and staffing, Kennon added a second shift in March 2018.
Total production staffing for the two shifts was expected to be 26-30 by the end of 2018. Kennon engineering and administrative staffing consisted of 17 employees in 2017 with an expected increase to 22 employees by the end of 2018.
Kennon’s retention rate is higher than industry standards with only one employee departing the company after the 90-day trial period in the past year due to retirement.